Lightweight, resonant, and packed with primo PAF tone, this is hands-down the best sounding 60s ES-335 to ever grace our space.
Gibson's ES-335 needs little introduction these days. Ever since it came on the scene in 1958, the groundbreaking semi-hollowbody electric has gained legions of fans and players with a list too long and impressive to lay out on this page. Sharing its hardware and electronics with the infamous Les Paul Standard, the ES-335 adds an acoustic-like energy that translates into an incredible touch-sensitive and dynamic instrument. Few guitars deliver the tonal versatility a great 335 can provide, and nothing reminds us quite like this unreal sounding cherry bomb from 1962.
What To Know
Just in on consignment from a local gentleman who's owned the guitar since the early/mid 1970s, this early 1962 Gibson ES-335TD in its original Cherry finish has all the hallmarks of arguably the most iconic version of the model to date.
The vibrant original Cherry finish has faded out ever so slightly without losing its richness and depth, all while allowing the gorgeous rippling of the Maple laminate to shine through. The combination of the classic Cherry with perfectly patinated nickel hardware and original black plastics make for an undeniably sleek and sophisticated tone machine. Tying that in with the first-year small block fingerboard inlay aesthetic set agains a dark chocolate Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard, and... well... there's really not much else to say, is there?!
News Flash! We're not done chatting this one up!
This is one of those old ES-335s that you know has "it" the second you take it out of its well-worn Ess & Ess hardshell case. It's uniquely lightweight, coming in just a few ounces north of 7.5 lbs. That translates into an incredibly lively semi-acoustic instrument that competes with some of the fully hollow thinline electrics that share the same body style - the ES-330 and Epiphone Casino. As intoxicating of an instrument it is to play acoustically, it's when we plugged it in where we realized just how special of a guitar this really is.
The PAF pickups in this guitar are nothing short of magical. They are a PERFECT match for this ES-335 in every sense. The neck pickup is super sweet sounding, with harmonic depth and an open vocal-like quality that simply has to be heard to truly appreciate. Everything you want in a neck humbucker is here. The bridge PAF follows along with a similar formula, giving up everything you want from the historic pickup and nothing you don't. Fundamental punch and authority is met with equal parts airiness and inherent musical compression that just blooms effortlessly. Let it be noted that the pickups are phenomenally balanced from an output standpoint. It becomes even more apparent in the middle position with both pickups active. Pure tonal addiction in an instant. Clean, edge of breakup, dirty, screaming - it doesn't matter what you throw at this guitar. It'll hang in any genre, any style, and deliver glorious tone with ease.
A few changes and modifications throughout the decades under the care of its longtime owner prevent this 335 from being a museum piece, which is to be expected with a guitar that has commanded so much play time. A pro refret was performed years ago that still provides a top-level playing experience. In that process, the luthier who had performed the work ended up refinishing the back of the neck. There's no evidence of any damage or breaks to be found. The nut was also replaced at the time of the refret, but the original nylon nut is included. 5 of 6 original Kluson "single line" tuners have remained, with just the B tuner being swapped for a "double line" Gibson-branded Kluson of the same style, likely from the 1970s. The f-holes show the addition of some lighter finish application on the edges of the cutouts, which appears to be quite old work.
The original Centralab potentiometers had also been replaced with similar pots while keeping the Sprague tone capacitors in place. The original PAF covers had previously been off, but the consignor doesn't recall a time where they had ever been removed during his ownership. Further inspection indicates that it's unlikely any repairs were made to the actual pickups, and it's assumed that removal of the covers was simply an aesthetic choice.
A few of the saddle screws on the original no-wire ABR-1 bridge were also replaced, but the original nickel-plated brass saddles remain. Lastly, the original stopbar tailpiece was swapped out for what identifies as a mid/late 50s "short seam" wraparound tailpiece. Effectively identical in function to a traditional stopbar, the wraparound bridge shows its rearward adjustment screw holes centered off of each mounting stud. It's still considered a highly desirable period-correct piece of Gibson hardware, and has been paired with the instrument since the consignor purchased the guitar. An old pro repair was done to the input jack area, which is barely visible unless examined under blacklight. The area - and most importantly the input jack itself - is rock solid and stable.
It's hard not to get so verbose when talking about a guitar like this. It doesn't happen every day, folks! This is one of those vintage electrics that is sure to leave a lasting impression on us all here at TME.